The grad school question: Is it worth it?

On Tuesday Oct. 22, Geneseo held the Graduate School Fair in the College Union Ballroom. Representatives for various grad schools talked to students interested in continuing their education after they graduate from Geneseo. The conventional wisdom today is that you will not be able to find gainful employment after graduation without going to graduate school. Students may make up their minds to attend graduate school even if their desired careers do not require any advanced degrees. Using graduate school as a fallback, or simply pursuing it to avoid joining the workforce out of college, is a reckless and financially irresponsible course of action.

Of course, education beyond an undergraduate degree is a necessity for some college students. For those who want to become doctors, there is no getting out of medical school. If your dream is to be a lawyer, you are going to law school.

There are plenty of students who enter college not knowing what they want to do professionally. The idea that you would figure out what you want to do in graduate school is a false premise. You should go to graduate school because you know what you want to do.

Even more so than an undergraduate degree, a graduate degree is an investment. You will likely incur a great amount of debt paying for your degree. By aimlessly entering grad school right after graduating college, you are not only risking wasting your time; you are risking putting yourself into potential financial ruin.

The job market for recent college graduates is a rough one, no question there. No one wants to graduate and just loaf around in a minimum-wage job. There are other things you can do to make yourself stand out to employers, though.

With such stiff competition for employment, the best thing you can do is set yourself apart from the competition. Take advantage of internship opportunities and other experiences to become a well-rounded candidate. If everyone has the same idea to get an advanced degree and thinks that it will make them more qualified, then it will have the opposite effect.

This is especially true for the communication majors out there hoping to enter the media field. Rather than entering journalism school after graduation, since a master’s degree in journalism could take decades to pay off, you should spend time developing your writing ability and looking for ways to innovate the changing media landscape.

Employers will invariably be more attracted to a candidate with exciting ideas than someone with two degrees instead of one; in fact, some may even be turned off by the stylistic limitations a journalism school may foster in one’s writing.

Getting a job out of college today is a vastly different process than the one our parents went through. Rather than wasting time and money in graduate school, however, the onus to adapt to the changing landscape falls squarely on us.